By Oluwafemi Popoola
The spokesman of Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, Laolu Akande, has highlighted his principal’s major achievements in office one of which is that the VP has been “a calming influence and voice of reason” for the Nigerian elites to come together and form a consensus of understanding that will help stabilize the country and promote its unity.
Speaking during a live interview session at Channels’ Sunrise Daily on Friday, May 5, 2023, Akande, speaking on a range of issues of national interest, highlighted numerous achievements of the VP in public service right from when he was Personal Assistant to the late former Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Bola Ajibola in 1998 to his time as VP for eight years, now set to leave office on May 29.
Akande said part of what Prof. Osinbajo has done as a VP was to bring together the Nigerian elites in tackling some of Nigeria’s many problems which he said is the way forward for Nigeria.
“One of the things that the VP has done very creditably is, he has been the voice of reason all through, especially when it speaks to the Nigerian elite, be it political elite and business elite, even religious elite.
“He has been the voice of reason saying that look, it is important for us elite to get things right. He has advocated over and again for an elite consensus to determine the minimum we ought to deliver as leaders to our people, be it in the area of the electoral system, ethical standards, whether in the area of social justice, the empowerment of the people, transforming the lives of the people.
“A lot depends on the elite and Prof. Osinbajo has been that voice calling for that consensus, that understanding, saying that as elites we are the ones that will make the difference. We are to emphasise the peace that brings us together, the unity, the oneness, and the strength in our diversity. That is what he has represented. And I think this is the way forward for our country. It is clearly a great country,” Akande said.
Commenting on Vice President Osinbajo’s decision to run for the Presidency and his loss at the Presidential Primary Election of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on June 8, 2022, Akande said, the VP’s entry into the race was driven by public interest which is the overriding factor.
According to him, Osinbajo threw his hat into the ring because he believed that as a VP he possesses the required experience, qualifications, and inspirational leadership qualities for the Office of the President.
Akande said Osinbajo couldn’t have chickened out given his representation to millions of Nigerian people who see him as a pathway to a new Nigeria.
His words, “What was important was to take an action or whatever step you are going to take in the best interest of the people. So, public interest was the overriding factor. And which was why I personally believe that he couldn’t have been Vice President for eight years, and the kind of Vice President you were, how much work that has been done, the level of understanding that you have acquired in terms of what has to be done and the capacity you have demonstrated when you had the opportunity to act for the President.
“You cannot have all of that and of course, you have inspired 10s, 20s, and scores of millions of Nigerians with your leadership style. People see you as a representation of New Nigeria, that with this guy, a new Nigeria is possible.
“Now, all of that can’t be in place and you just work away and say I’m not going to run, no no no! You don’t do that, you have to stand, you have to put yourself up, and once you stand up and put yourself up, it’s up to at that level, your party to decide what they want to do, and the decision has been taken and you move on, and that is exactly what the Vice President has done.
Also, speaking on the Vice President’s extraordinary ability to communicate with the Nigerian people, Akande said Osinbajo connects well to an average Nigerian which is evident in the amount of goodwill he enjoys.
He said, “One of the things he (Osinbajo) does very well is that he connects with the Nigerian people. In my personal view, if there is a Nigerian leader that understands how to connect with the people, you must give it to the VP and this explains why there is so much love from the people.
“There is hardly any Nigerian today short of just been politically contentious, you know, of course, if you are a politician, you are going to get a lot of opponents whose job is just to oppose you. My point is that the VP has done a good job in communicating with Nigerians and that is why Nigerians understand that he is different.”